Old customers of the State Street Barber still climb the
steep stone stairs outside 7212 W. State Street.
They’re looking for Neso, only to learn from the new proprietors that Daniel “Neso” Mistrioty — who cut hair here for 42 years — passed away last Dec. 20.
New in the space is Platinum, a salon run by Tia Stachowiak. It opened May 1 as part of a family operation — her mother owns the salon and her cousin, Chris Leffler of next-door-neighbor Leff’s Lucky Town, owns the building — but you can’t tell the new business story without a nod to Neso.
“He liked to sit on the steps with his dogs, two coon hounds,” Stachowiak said. “I remember driving by and seeing him.”
Neso served customers in the front and lived in an apartment in the back. Behind that was a fenced yard where the hounds could run when they weren’t keeping Neso company on the front steps.
Those old customers who stop in all speak highly of their old barber, Stachowiak said, and some even have their hair cut by the stylists who rent chair space at Platinum, once they learn Neso is gone.
“They’ll even haggle a price,” she said.
Neso owned his building and the connected location that is home to Leff’s, the popular Wauwatosa watering hole across from Hart Park. When Neso finally sold last year — a brief obituary does not list his age, though Stachowiak estimated he was in his 80s — Chris Leffler bought both buildings and converted Neso’s old apartment to an office.
Platinum offers hair services only, and Stachowiak strives for customers to feel like they’re sitting in a living room. To that end, customers can even order food from Leff’s and eat at the long table in Platinum.
“The joke around here is, you can go from the saloon to the salon,” she said.
Neso, whose obituary says he had a “big heart, sarcastic humor and dry wit,” probably would have loved that one.